Social Selling is a hot topic, and many sales & marketing leaders are considering it, but often don’t know where to start. Alignment between sales & marketing departments causes for top of the funnel growth potential. Your marketing department is creating content for your salespeople to share, but you are unclear of where your sales people should start prospecting.
Where should your salespeople start prospecting on social?
On LinkedIn Groups!
Just to be clear, LinkedIn groups are:
A place to engage with other thought leaders to seek advice, share expertise, find solutions for buying problems, and also a great way to discover prospects. There is a LinkedIn group for just about any profession, industry or topic of interest where you can find potential buyers in search of solutions to their problems. If you’re looking to participate in a meaningful dialogue with potential buyers, then LinkedIn Groups provide a great forum for sales conversations.
LinkedIn Groups are NOT a place for traditional selling. Promoting yourself, your products or posting any comments that give off the slightest odour of a sales pitch will turn everybody away from you. Nobody wants to be spammed on LinkedIn, this is especially true for Groups. LinkedIn has taken some measures including content filtering to keep job-postings, spam, and low quality content out of conversations.
Before I get into the proper way your salespeople should be prospecting on LinkedIn Groups, let me get you up to speed on some of thenew changes implemented in the last few months:
- The new iOS App makes it easy to discover groups, participate in conversations, share insight, and make new connections all from mobile. You can also receive push notifications to your phone from updates on conversations you’re participating in.
- All groups are private, so you can’t see a conversation until you’ve been accepted into the group. This requires an invitation or approval of request from the Group Administrator. This change was made, as open groups attracted a larger percentage of low-quality conversations.
- As I mentioned above, the new content filtering keeps out spam & low quality content. There is also now a separate tab in groups for job postings, to keep them apart from conversations.
- LinkedIn noticed that users found subgroups to be confusing, so now there are only individual groups.
- To have more engaging conversations, users can now add images to conversations but not in the comments.
- If you want to bring somebody else into a conversation, you can now do so by simply tagging them “@“ in the post.
How can you prospect on LinkedIn Groups?
Here is an easy process to follow to get your sales reps up and prospecting on LinkedIn Groups.
Tip 1: Join groups
- LinkedIn allows any given member to be a part of up to 100 groups at any given time.
- After doing a quick search on LinkedIn, it appears there are 412,322 groups available to join.
- Start off by defining where your buyers are by job title, industry, or topic of interest.
- For example, if you’re a salesperson that sells a content marketing platform, you’ll want to search for groups containing “Content Marketing”, “Content Managers”, “Marketing Leaders” or “Marketing Director”.
- LinkedIn will also suggest groups for you to join based on your interests and connections.
- Start joining relevant groups with niche or specific topics. If you’re that same salesperson selling a content marketing platform, what good would it be to join a general marketing group? I’m sure there are great conversations happening in these more general interest groups, it’ll be easier to find & connect with prospects in the groups with specific audiences.
Tip 2: Participate in conversations:
- Now that you’ve joined some groups, you want to start participating in conversations to show your domain knowledge.
- Most groups will have a ‘group rules’ which you should visit to ensure you comply with conversation guidelines.
- Imagine you’re participating in these conversations live, so contribute logical and sensible input to a group conversation. As other members visit the group, they’ll notice your responses or engagements within a conversation feed, make sure they like what they see!
- Engagement in LinkedIn groups is a two way street, you need to ensure you’re asking and answering questions. The are always group members that are very active, and if one of these individuals fits your buyer profile, you want to ensure you get on their radar!
Tip 3: Turn your sales instincts off:
- The last thing you want to do in a LinkedIn group conversation is pitch your product, promote yourself aggressively, or do anything that is purely out of self-interest. Hence “GROUP” conversations, they are intended to be collaborative discussions where members can exchange valuable insights. There’s no “I” or “Me” in “Group”.
- As soon as you do anything ‘salesy’ within a group, you’ve lost all credibility, people will most likely perceive you as a pest, and you could get booted from the group altogether.
- Don’t get discouraged though, there is an easy way to identify prospects and take the conversation offline to book meetings.
Tip 4: Prove you are a subject matter expert
- The key to prospecting on LinkedIn groups, is to prove you are a subject matter expert, so other group members perceive you as a trusted advisor (not a stone-age salesperson trying to make a buck).
- Craft intelligent answers to questions asked in group discussions that showcase your expertise on the matter.
- You should also be asking questions to prompt group members to think critically about their problems.
Tip 5: Take the conversation offline
- LinkedIn grants you with 15 free InMail messages specifically for groups – this is key to taking the conversation offline!
- Once you have identified a viable prospect and have engaged them somehow, click ‘reply privately’ at the bottom of the conversation feed to message the individual directly.
- In the message, thank them for asking a question or sharing some content, and include your own two cents on the matter. Also be sure to link them to a piece of content that is relevant to the topic of the original conversation.
- Simply state that you’d ‘love to have a conversation around X topic to share best practices and exchange notes’, and ask for a meeting.
As with all ROI-driven sales activities, it’s important that each sales person on your team allocates 10-30 minutes a day for participating in LinkedIn Group conversations to ensure pipeline growth. By joining LinkedIn Groups and actively participating in conversations, each of your salespeople should be able to create 5+ new leads per week.